The new bachelor of applied science degree — the first of its kind in the Oregon University System — waives the requirement for a minor, essentially giving students two years' credit for their technical education.

People with two-year associate trade degrees now will be able to use them toward a bachelor's degree from Southern Oregon University.

The new bachelor of applied science degree — the first of its kind in the Oregon University System — waives the requirement for a minor, essentially giving students two years' credit for their technical education, said SOU marketing teacher Joan McBee, creator and coordinator of the program.

Until now, the two-year associate degree in trades such as construction, electronics, welding, fire and police science and auto mechanics has been considered a "terminal degree," meaning it couldn't lead to a bachelor's degree. Students, if they wanted business management credentials, would end up with many more credits than the 180 required for a bachelor's.

Since being pioneered by SOU, the degree is being studied by the university system and community colleges around Oregon as a way to improve the workforce and open opportunities for associate degree holders, McBee said.

Much of the degree is earned online, allowing students with jobs in the field to keep working and apply what they're learning in their careers, McBee said, adding that students can use career experience to "test out" of some courses.

For more information, go to sou.edu/degreecompletion/bus/BAS.html.